ED2014 Children's Shows ED2014 Columns ED2014 Week2 Edition

Reviews Feature: Adventures at the children’s Fringe

By | Published on Thursday 14 August 2014

ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Caro Moses and our children’s show correspondent Cecily, aged 7, review shows for younger Fringe-goers.

Caro & Cecily

Since having a child, I have been forced, by law, to review only children’s shows. I occasionally slip up and accidentally go out and view some comedy or theatre, but please don’t tell the Fringe media police or I’m for it. So, the moment my daughter Cecily and I arrived in Edinburgh a few days ago, we began an exhausting schedule of kid-show-going. Well, it’s exhausting for me. I’m the one who has to remember to sort out the tickets.

By the time you read this, we will have seen a whole lot more, and will probably have gone much further afield, to venues far and wide. You’ll be able to read about those in our Daily email. But for the moment, this is what we have seen, and would recommend, at the time of going to press.

Dean Friedman’s Smarty Pants (DBS Productions and Dean Friedman)
Familiar Fringe face Dean Friedman has in recent years added musical shows for kids to his Festival repertoire, and the result is very successful. ‘Smarty Pants’ has the simplest of plots in a setting familiar to small ones: a little girl has her first day at school and discovers that telling the other children that she knows loads about everything isn’t the way to win friends and influence people. It’s very much aimed at the children – this isn’t really the kind of show that delights in sophisticated asides to the adults – but it nonetheless manages to engage everyone with some very catchy songs, and through the winning performances of a highly energetic cast who never drop the pace for a moment.
Sweet Grassmarket, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]

Jay Foreman’s Disgusting Songs For Revolting Children (And Other Funny Stories) (Ditto Productions)
Some of Jay Foreman’s songs really are truly disgusting and unpleasant, but, you know, if you know anything about kids, or even have one, you’ll know that they relish any mention of poo, wee, death or dismemberment by the time they are seven. Or is that just mine…? In any case, the comedian does a great job of entertaining his crowd, keeping the rowdier ones in line with a succession of fierce looks, offering songs and poetry that perhaps skirt a little closer to the bone than some parents might be comfortable with; yet, my fellow child-wranglers laughed happily, probably even louder than their enthralled kids. My daughter chortled delightedly throughout, and has already treated me to many a sketchy reprise.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]

Sid’s Show (Oscar Stardust Ltd)
If you’ve weaned your child on Cbeebies in the last decade or so, you won’t have failed to come across the channel’s longest serving presenter. His touring show very much reflects his recent career, not least because the show features the very catchy ‘number raps’ music, and is peppered throughout with references to Sid’s Cbeebies friends. It’s very much a show for that demographic, clearly designed to appeal to the 6-and-unders, and it very capably achieves its aim. Sloane’s energy is infectious and apparently pretty much boundless, as he leads the audience on a fantastical journey in search of a missing pair of socks. As Sid left the stage, one of the children in the crowd shouted “I love you”; I think that accurately reflected the general feeling of affection in the room.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]

The Tale Of The Dastardly Defrost (As Told By)
I struggled initially with the concept of this show, the story of an assorted shelf’s worth of fridge-stored foodstuffs threatened with extinction via the medium of an unexpected defrost. I found myself wondering just how long these characters were destined to live in any case… surely digestion would be imminent…? But I am not a child, and perhaps children don’t overthink these things; this pint sized audience certainly seemed engaged by the company’s committed and sprightly performances, giving their full attention, for the most part, to a hysterical can of whip cream, a very French bottle of champagne, a grumpy old Stilton and the romance being played out between chocolate and cheese. Not one for toddlers, this, but it should easily entertain your minus-9s.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Caro Moses]

Arabian Nights (Story Pocket Theatre)
This is a brilliant play for children of any age, and for their parents too. From the beginning the room was mesmerised by a cast of three highly talented actors who shifted ably from role to role, drawing us in with equal helpings of high drama and belly-laugh inducing comedy. The Story of Scheherazade and her king is well known, as are her tales of genies, lamps, secret caves and thieves, but there is nothing over-familiar or stale about this performance. Each vignette is briskly paced, and features well defined and beautifully rendered characters, while the well-designed and evocative set is slickly used to create a range of different environments. A top notch show with high production values.
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Caro Moses]

Bec And Tom’s Awesome Laundry (Gilded Balloon / Bec Hill and Tom Goodliffe)
How awesome, exactly, can a laundry based show be? Well, pretty awesome, actually, as it turns out. It’s a deliberately shambolic-seeming affair (the set seems mostly to be made from cardboard and marker pens) that makes in-jokes of its own seeming-inadequacy, and in the process elicits delighted gurgles of laughter from a smallish Sunday crowd, who are more than willing to get interactive with their endearing, bubble-blowing hosts. There’s a vague narrative: Tom, the stuffy one, has to make Bec, the silly one, face up to the responsibility of doing the washing, but all sorts of wacky things happen before the spin cycle ends. It doesn’t feel like an hour – all over so quickly – what a pity there isn’t time to stick on another load!
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | | | |